New Agrarian Voices

Learn about the impressions and experiences of each year's cohort of apprentices in their own words.

Claire Wineman, APPRENTICE, Cooper Creek Ranch, MT

REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH
May 2021

I became interested in agriculture on May 23, 2018, while reading an article on an airplane about how holistic management of cattle can be used to sequester carbon and build up soil health. At the time I was simply an aspiring earth scientist who hadn’t quite discovered her direction yet, but I did know two things about myself to be deeply true: I have an intense love for all things bovine, and I love to eat, so the notion that cows and soil could help save the planet and provide people with healthy, delicious food naturally caught my eye. 

Agriculture, and specifically soil science, quickly became my area of focus because I realized it formed the ideal middle ground for many of my passions. Not only did soil science provide me with a medium to conduct research and better understand the workings of the natural world, but it created numerous opportunities for me to interact with people in every pocket of our food system – producers, scientists, businesspeople, activists, consumers, etc. – and work on ways to improve how we grow, raise, and distribute food for the betterment of Earth and others. Since then, I have been fortunate to work with public health experts to develop mental health resources for farmers, studied the impacts of compost on leaching heavy metals from urban farm soils in Ohio, pioneered a new method of measuring soil cation exchange capacity in-field in collaboration with Colorado producers, and spent a season growing fresh produce for people around the Denver metro area. I love working in agriculture because I never run out of chances to try new things and meet new folks (and animals!); every role is essential, and I hope to try my hand at every one of them so I can effectively advocate for and work with my colleagues in whatever agricultural field I ultimately end up in. 

From my apprenticeship I hope to gain the opportunity to put everything I have learned so far into the context of the unique environment I’ve found at Cooper Creek Ranch and develop the ability to see and help foster the many connections that exist between land health, animal wellbeing, and the health of local community. On a more personal level, I am working hard to get better at going with the many surprises ranch life holds each day; the learning curve can feel massive and insurmountable at times, but I am slowly learning what an incredible gift it is to have a job that constantly reminds me of the joyful fact that I have so much more to learn. It is a privilege to go to sleep at night knowing there will be more to improve upon tomorrow, and wake up knowing the day will be filled with so many more opportunities to grow. 

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